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93 t w e l v e Connections The steep trail up to Cave Rock levels out at a switchback and leads either into the cave or across the cave apron to a small stone patio overlooking the vast expanse of Lake Tahoe. A mid-February 2009 visit revealed that the graffiti, the paved floor, and the anchors in the rock remained. Several names and dates, timeworn but obtrusive, were inscribed on the walls. A Forest Service sign reading “No installing of rock climbing hardware” leaned against a wall. Overhead, where the rock opens and rises to fifty feet and then continues up another one hundred feet, abandoned bolts, carabineers, and slings still marked phantom routes. Half a dozen large natural rock benches lined the main portion of the cave. Short, narrow, pea gravel paths led around a circle of slightly larger, irregular rocks to another granite mosaic floor. Beyond the floor, uneven ground inclined to the cave’s dark back wall. In front of the floor, smoke from a recent fire blackened one wall and the overhanging roof. A couple of cobbles broken from the flooring were positioned as part of the fire ring. A branch of sage on the ground nearby might have been evidence of a Washoe practitioner’s recent visit. Except for an occasional vehicle rushing through the tunnel below, the site was silent. A year earlier, on February 26, 2008, the climbing closure had become permanent. Forest Order 19-08-01 allows noninvasive recreational activities but manages the site for its historical and archaeological significance . The agency was waiting for funding to remove the climbing artifacts and graffiti. None of the most visible principals in the conflict were actively engaged in it by the time the climbing ban became final. After the district court judgment in 2005 upheld her decision, Maribeth Gustafson became the forest supervisor of the White River National Forest in Colorado. 94 cave rock   In 2008 she was promoted to the position of deputy regional forester in Denver. Former supervisor Juan Palma continued to find administrative positions in other government organizations. Lisa O’Daly left the Forest Service to become a planner for the city of South Lake Tahoe. Brian Wallace lost a reelection bid in 2006 after serving as Washoe tribal chair for sixteen years. He is a political consultant on Native affairs, and in 2008 served on the National Native American Advisory Council for Bill Richardson ’s presidential campaign. Local climber Terry Lilienfield stopped climbing at Cave Rock years before the last court finding. Access Fund Policy Analyst Sam Davidson and Regional Representative Paul Minault retired from their positions, and the fund no longer mentions Cave Rock in its publications. The importance of the Cave Rock issue is irrefutable. After the district court decided in favor of the Washoes, Tribal Chair Wallace commented: “Many of us waited our entire lives for a moment like today.” Forest Service archaeologist John Maher concurred, saying it was “a once in a lifetime case.”1 The legal framework necessary to make the Cave Rock determination had its roots in public awareness of Native peoples’ causes raised in the 1960s and 1970s. Indian activism, growing academic recognition, and lobbying created an atmosphere for action by the federal government’s executive and legislative branches. Those acts, toothless with regard to enforcement, led the Forest Service—an agency with the power to implement an enforcement mechanism—to find in favor of recognizing and restricting damage to the property. The decision sustains the theory that agency management, in conjunction with statutory provisions and enforcement by the judiciary, is a viable form of protection for sacred sites. In the case of Cave Rock, the administrative agency’s personnel were closer to the issue and the contesting parties than were the judges or lawmakers. Although compromise was ultimately found to be unworkable, agency officials were able to fully explore possible concessions. Officials considered the role of religious values in a way that courts, because of strict precedents regarding property or liability, could not. And the narrower, site-specific decision was easier to uphold in the appeals process.2 But the Cave Rock dispute was very nearly decided in opposite fashion . Two forest supervisors, Juan Palma and Maribeth Gustafson, viewed largely the same evidence, came to different conclusions, and made connections   95 radically different decisions. Palma sought to find a middle ground that would mollify both sides. He never seemed to grasp the depth of the Washoe tribe’s antipathy toward...


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